Philippine film scoops Golden Lion at Venice Film Festival

Philippine film "The Woman Who Left", a revenge tale shot in black and white by director Lav Diaz, won the top Golden Lion prize at the Venice Film Festival on Saturday.

Philippine film scoops Golden Lion at Venice Film Festival
Filipino director Lav Diaz collects his Golden Lion. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP
“I want to dedicate this film to the Filipino people and their struggle, and humanity's struggle,” Diaz said as he received the award.
Holding his Lion aloft, the man behind Melancholia (2008) and Century of Birthing (2011) thanked the jury, lead this year by British director Sam Mendes, who said the 20 films in competition had proved to be of “a wonderful, astonishing variety”.
In “The Woman Who Left”, a story about the absurdity of human existence, a wrongly convicted schoolteacher plots retribution against the ex-boyfriend who framed her, disguising herself in a bid to get close to her prey.
Released in the late 1990s after decades behind bars, Horacia (Charo Santos-Cancio) discovers her loved ones are either dead or gone, and the ex-boyfriend, now a wealthy underworld boss, becomes the target of her simmering rage.
At nearly four hours long, Diaz's film — nominally inspired by Leo Tolstoy's 1872 short story “God Sees the Truth, But Waits” — plays with the theme of moral accountability within a narrative coloured by kidnappings,
transgenderism and poverty.
Best actor went to Argentina's Oscar Martinez for his portrayal of a cynical Nobel Prize-winning author who returns to his village for the first time in 40 years in the comedy on art and fame, “The Distinguished Citizen”.
US actress Emma Stone received the best actress prize for her depiction of a struggling thespian who falls head over heels in love with a jazz pianist — played by Ryan Gosling — in US musical “La La Land”.
“I wish I could be there to make sure it's not an elaborate prank,” quipped Stone in a video message, saying she could “think of no better place in the world than Venice to premier 'La La Land', we had a wonderful time”.
Fashionista-turned-director Tom Ford was awarded the Silver Lion grand jury prize for “Nocturnal Animals”, a romantic thriller about former lovers starring Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal, with a violent revenge tale told as a story within a story.
An emotional Ford addressed the audience in Italian, saying he had spent “some of my best years in Italy” and it was his “biggest dream to return to Venice” after premiering his first film here, “A Single Man”, in 2009.
The Silver Lion for best director was divided this year between Mexico's Amat Escalante for “The Untamed”, about the sex life of a tentacled extraterrestrial  creature, and Russia's Andrei Konchalovsky for Holocaust
drama “Paradise”.
“Jackie”, a bio-drama which stars Natalie Portman as the grieving widow of US President John F. Kennedy, meanwhile took best screenplay, with Chilean director Pablo Larrain saying the triumph was Portman's, calling her “the only woman who could have played this role”.
Ana Lily Amirpour — dubbed “the new Tarantino” by fans — scooped the special jury prize for her second film “Bad Batch”, a cannibal love story with Jim Carrey and Keanu Reeves about a young girl who ends up on the menu in a futuristic United States.
But there was no recognition for Terrence Malick's “Voyage of Time”, which wowed Venice audiences with its portrayal of the life and death of the universe through stunning special effects and real-life images taken from earth's most sophisticated satellites.


Italy to pay €57m compensation over Venice cruise ship ban

The Italian government announced on Friday it would pay 57.5 million euros in compensation to cruise companies affected by the decision to ban large ships from Venice's fragile lagoon.

A cruise ship in St Mark's Basin, Venice.
The decision to limit cruise ship access to the Venice lagoon has come at a cost. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

The new rules, which took effect in August, followed years of warnings that the giant floating hotels risked causing irreparable damage to the lagoon city, a UNESCO world heritage site.

READ ALSO: Venice bans large cruise ships from centre after Unesco threat of ‘endangered’ status

Some 30 million euros has been allocated for 2021 for shipping companies who incurred costs in “rescheduling routes and refunding passengers who cancelled trips”, the infrastructure ministry said in a statement.

A further 27.5 million euros – five million this year and the rest in 2022 – was allocated for the terminal operator and related companies, it said.

The decision to ban large cruise ships from the centre of Venice in July came just days before a meeting of the UN’s cultural organisation Unesco, which had proposed adding Venice to a list of endangered heritage sites over inaction on cruise ships.

READ ALSO: Is Venice really banning cruise ships from its lagoon?

Under the government’s plan, cruise ships will not be banned from Venice altogether but the biggest vessels will no longer be able to pass through St Mark’s Basin, St Mark’s Canal or the Giudecca Canal. Instead, they’ll be diverted to the industrial port at Marghera.

But critics of the plan point out that Marghera – which is on the mainland, as opposed to the passenger terminal located in the islands – is still within the Venice lagoon.

Some aspects of the plan remain unclear, as infrastructure at Marghera is still being built. Meanwhile, smaller cruise liners are still allowed through St Mark’s and the Giudecca canals.

Cruise ships provide a huge economic boost to Venice, but activists and residents say the ships contribute to problems caused by ‘overtourism’ and cause large waves that undermine the city’s foundations and harm the fragile ecosystem of its lagoon.